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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

September 21 to September 28, 2018

FREE FISHING DAY: National Hunting and Fishing Day, Saturday, September 22, is a designated free fishing day in New York. Anyone can fish the fresh waters of New York State and no fishing license is required! All other freshwater fishing regulations still apply.

Lake Erie & Harbors

After a couple of slow days last week, Lake Erie anglers have enjoyed an exceptional walleye bite since Sunday. From Cattaraugus Creek to the PA line, anglers report constant fish marks on the screen both high and low. However, most walleye seem to be suspended above the cold water at about 40 feet down. A DEC Creel Technician reports that every boat returning to Cattaraugus Creek launches on Thursday had their limit of walleye. Depths of 60-80 feet of water were productive for lots of 16-19 inch walleye with a fair amount of lunkers mixed in. Dunkirk area anglers saw the best walleye action at around 80 feet of water, with the occasional steelhead mixed in. Barcelona anglers are catching fast limits of walleye in 80-92 feet of water with a steelhead or two mixed in, per boat. Some boats specifically targeting steelhead did very well off Barcelona in 115-120 feet of water. Lures run above the thermocline worked well. Steelhead should also start to show closer to tributary mouths, if they haven't already. Trolling with spoons between 2-2.5 mph is the typical tactic for steelhead off creek mouths. Yellow perch fishing has been improving. Out of Cattaraugus Creek, anglers are catching perch over a wide area between 42-75 feet of water. Best catches on Thursday were at depths of around 50 feet. Closer to 75 feet of water, perch anglers are also catching a few walleye. Fish live emerald shiners or other smaller minnows just off the bottom for perch.

Lake Erie Tributaries

Last week there were some reports of smaller steelhead in the low section of Cattaraugus Creek. However, that has shut down with daytime creek temperatures climbing into the mid to upper 70s. Cooler weather and rain are needed to trigger a run. For those new to steelhead fishing, see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page.

Niagara River

Despite warmer than ideal conditions in the lower river, king salmon are slowly moving in. Most catches have come from the NYPA fishing platform, however drifters are just starting to catch a few in the Devils Hole drift. The lower river salmon run will continue to build over the next couple of weeks. Smallmouth bass and walleye are available from Artpark through the mid-river drifts. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page.

Lake Ontario & Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

Mature king salmon are staging in nearshore waters off major tributary mouths, and at times the fishing has been productive. However, nearshore waters are still a bit warm, which seems to dampen the bite. But the fish are there. In general, fishing is typically best at dawn for staging salmon and the bite can pick back up again near dusk. Before daybreak, salmon can be just a short distance off pier heads. After sunrise, depths of 50-100 feet of water are a better bet. Trolling with J-Plugs, J-13 Rapalas, flasher-fly combos and large spoons is the standard practice. The better action has been offshore at depths of 300 feet plus. Trollers are consistently catching good numbers of 2-year-old king salmon and big steelhead on gear run between 50-80 feet down.

For the past couple of weeks, anglers have been catching fair numbers of king salmon from the piers at Olcott, Oak Orchard and Genesee River, but there have been some very slow days mixed in. Casting heavy (3/4 ounce plus) Little Cleo, K.O. Wobbler and Moonshine glow spoons at night works well. Treated skein fished under a float can be productive on calmer nights. Pier anglers are also catching brown trout and northern pike. The tributaries remain low, warm and there has been no sign of salmon movement yet.

DEC requests your help with recovering heads from Coho Salmon caught in Lake Ontario beginning in 2018. We are comparing Coho Salmon stocking strategies by mass marking and/or tagging all stocked Coho Salmon in 2016-2018, and wild vs. stocked Coho Salmon by clipping adipose fins in 2016-2018. For more information on data to include with Coho heads and freezer locations for drop-off, see Coho Salmon Head Collection page.

Chautauqua Lake

Anglers continue to see decent walleye action in the north basin from weedlines out to 30 feet of water. Trolling outside weedlines is best during low light periods. Vertical jigging has worked well for walleye near the bottom in 20-30 feet of water. Anglers are catching muskellunge by casting along weedlines and by trolling in 20-30 feet of water with lures run 10-15 feet down. Weed beds are a good bet for a mix of yellow perch, white perch, bluegill and white bass. See the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Inland Trout Fishing

Area trout streams range from slightly high and murky in the larger southern tier streams, to low and clear in the northern half of the region. Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams, Stocked Streams and Stocked Lakes to choose from. In addition, Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region's best streams. Check out the Fishing for Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, fishing equipment and techniques.

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.